Five Ways Online Bookings Will Boost Your Business

Sometimes in business, the old ways are still the best. Shaking hands, good customer service and striking deals in person remain essential tools of the modern business, just as they have been for centuries.

However, there are some tools which should be left in the past, and that includes old, outmoded booking platforms.

For many of us, our trusty appointment book or diary remains a vital part of the functioning of our business, but what if it could be improved? Technology has dramatically improved much of the process of modern business management, so why not your booking process?

Here at BookingLive, we’ve seen first-hand how beneficial an online booking system can be to businesses of all shapes and sizes, but what are the five ways online booking will help boost your business?

 

online booking system

 

Great Booking Flexibility for Customers

Without an online booking system in place, booking for your customers happens in one of a few ways: either they book in person, over the phone or via email. Whichever of these ways your customer chooses to book, the process is a time consuming for them and they’re limited by your office hours.

By booking online, your customers can book as and when it suits them, rather than bending to those restrictive booking hours. Online booking also means that multiple customers can book simultaneously and from any Internet-enabled platform they have to hand, whether that’s a smartphone at midnight or a desktop at 3pm.

That’s a huge boost for any business, with customers able to book at any hour and from any country, a feature which truly embraces the strengths and advantages of the internet.  This will help you to never miss a customer again.

 

Reduced Staff Workloadreduced work - online booking system

Traditional booking systems like telephone booking may get the job done to a degree, but they require a large amount of maintenance to keep accurate and up to date.

Alongside staff dedicated to managing your phone lines and other communication channels, you need staff to put aside time to update and manage your booking calendar, take payments, check for mistakes, remind customers of their booking and manage staff availability. Those are all time-consuming tasks which require an expert eye to ensure that no mistakes slip through.

By operating an online booking system, you’re automating the entire process. Customers can only book dates which have spaces available and pay up front for their booking, requiring no intervention by your staff, and enjoy automatic booking reminders. It’s the fast, simple way for your customers to book, and frees up your staff to focus on other tasks around your business where their talents are better placed – perfect!

 

Increased Revenue with Upselling

Any business will tell you that the key to growth is turning a customer buying one thing once into a customer buying multiple things often, which is why we built BookingLive with upselling support out of the box.

Before your customer confirms their booking, you can present them with a limitless range of options for expanding their purchase.

Whether that’s special discounts on multi-buys, extra equipment or anything else, BookingLive enables you to offer it. Our customers have seen an increase of over 40% when offering related products and services alongside their primary bookings, can you afford to miss out on that kind of revenue boost?

 

Boost Customer Engagement with a Built-In Blogging Platform

Writing a blog is a fantastic way to get customers engaged with your business, and can really help push you up the search rankings. BookingLive has a built-in blogging platform, which lets you create fully integrated and customisable blog posts with ease.

Regular news pieces and updates regarding events, products and stock help to build a relationship between you and your customers, earn valuable legitimacy and boost sales. It’s also a vital tactic for those looking to improve their rankings on search engines like Google and Bing.

Both search platforms regularly scan websites for fresh, relevant content. By maintaining a blog that remains on brand and hits target keywords, you can encourage search engines to move you up the rankings and, therefore, increase visits to your website and orders.

 

Easy Social promotionFeatures of an online booking system

Social networks are fast becoming the centre of the modern internet, with platforms like Facebook and Twitter being used not just for socialising with friends and family, but as a primary port-of-call for brands and purchases. This has resulted in many people finding new businesses through social media, whether this is a simple search or advert. This is why promoting on social media could come as a huge advantage to your business!

By taking bookings online you would have a clear page to send potential customers to rather than saying ‘call us to place a booking’. Plus sending to your booking form with compelling content next to it should increase the amount of overall bookings.

Some booking systems do in fact integrate with Facebook and comes with a range of features/advantages, which include:

  • The ability for customers to book directly from Facebook with live availability calendars and detailed product descriptions.
  • Optional promotional codes for bookings made through Facebook
  • Liking and sharing features for your activities or courses, increasing visibility
  • Tracking features for bookings made through Facebook

If you’re interested in finding out more about how our online booking software could boost your business, feel free to contact us today or sign up for a free demo!

 

 

Online Booking Systems for Councils & Local Authorities

Public Sector Booking SystemEverybody knows that when it comes to the public sector and governmental offices, adhering to strict regulations and budgets is absolutely essential. It’s a natural part of public sector work, one determined by governmental budgets and the need to provide as much visible benefit to the public as possible, but it also means that improvements can often take a back seat.

Over the years, we’ve heard countless times that online booking systems for the public sector aren’t a priority, but at BookingLive want to change that perception but showing you what a booking system could do for your local government.

Online booking software can not only dramatically improve the efficiency of public sector offices, but also increase revenue.

Whether you’re a council, a local authority or any other public-sector business, there are dozens of ways in which online booking platforms can help you.

 

What Can Online Booking Systems for the Public Sector Do for You?

From our extensive research, we’ve found many local authorities use telephone, mail or online booking enquiry forms, rather than online live availability booking systems.

Such methods are time consuming and inefficient, leading to a loss of revenue and frustration for customers. By implementing an online booking system, time spent on administration tasks such as financial reconciliation, customer communications, booking notifications, reporting and up-selling, decreases significantly – as does human error. Online booking systems for councils also keeps data far more secure than paper-based systems

With an online booking system embedded on your site, you’re able to keep attract more customers because of the sheer convenience that online booking provides. This will allow your customers to book at their convenience. Consider for a moment that non-online booking platforms require not only your clients to be able to book during working hours, but also have access to telephones. By moving your booking online, you’re opening the door to round-the-clock bookings from customers, eliminating the friction of other booking systems.

Traditional, non-online booking methods might work fine if you’re dealing with the occasional customer. However, good public services are always dealing with more than a handful of customers at a time.

When you’re managing services that, potentially, tens of thousands of people are liable to use, you need a booking system can handle high traffic, and that’s the power of online booking platforms like BookingLive.

By automating the entire booking process, BookingLive enables you to redirect staff away from booking management and towards other aspects of your public-sector business. Not only that, you will also have a higher customer retention rate. Why? Because customers often get frustrated when dealing a slow manual, limited booking process.

 

What Are the Features of An Online Booking Systembooking software features

Online booking systems like BookingLive are feature-rich, so that whatever your specific requirements are, you’re certain to find a feature or two that will fit your public-sector business.

If you’re worried about how the booking system will work for you, you can rest assured. Our online booking systems for councils can be seamlessly integrated into your current website or served as a sub domain or even better – a website and booking system in one.

That means that not only can you keep your existing logo, but also your colour scheme and any other branding details that you might have. Additionally, all BookingLive systems are mobile responsive, so no matter what device your customers are booking from, they’ll get a seamless and effective booking experience.

One of the top features of our online booking system for public sector businesses is our upload option. This allows customers to upload pertinent documents required for a booking to push through. For example, council tenants can forward relevant information before coming in to their meeting. BookingLive is even part of local authority networks, ensuring that all your transactions go through effortlessly.

Alongside these huge features, BookingLive also offers a comprehensive business management and reporting system together with a support team. When you sign up for BookingLive’s online booking software, you’ll be handed your very own personal Project Manager and Account Manager, who will guide you through the set up and help you enable the online booking features that best suit your requirements.

The following are the top uses of BookingLive in the public sector:

  • Activity bookings
  • School meeting bookings
  • Waste collection bookings
  • Registrar bookings
  • Course or Event bookings
  • Meeting bookings
  • Leisure bookings

 

What Choose BookingLive?

At BookingLive, we’re experienced at working with local authorities and believe our system is the best fit as we aim to meet all of your needs.

Alongside this, BookingLive boasts a whole host of features such as complete booking management, reports and excellent account management training tools and support. BookingLive also allows your customers to fill out their own information to ensure that all information you need to collect is correct – this will therefore increase the overall accuracy of your data to ensure that those reports you will be producing are accurate.

Another major issue for councils and other public-sector businesses is customers forgetting to arrive to appointments and bookings. It puts an immense strain on staff, who prepare for customers only to have them not arrive.

That’s why BookingLive automatically reminds customers that their booking is coming up. It’s just another public-sector first feature of our online booking platform.

Working alongside public-sector businesses, we’ve also found that security is of vital importance, That’s why all of our servers are PCI compliant and enjoy regular data backups and SSL enabled technology, to offer clients absolute security confidence. That’s backed up by mandatory HTTPS on every page with BookingLive embedded and carefully structured servers, which ensure that in the case of a breach for one customer, the other customers remain protected.

By incorporating a BookingLive system into your organisation or department you can break free of the time and expensive of outdated booking systems, and all at cost effective rates within commonly found tender thresholds.

If you want to explore 35 advantages of BookingLive then  head over to our blog post!

To find out how BookingLive’s booking system can meet your businesses needs get in contact with a member of our sales team to organise a personal demo.

Beginner’s Guide to Online Booking and Appointment Software

The internet has fundamentally altered every aspect of running a business, and that includes the way we make and take bookings. The days are gone in which customers would pick up the phone, you pull out our diary and pick a date which worked for both parties.Link to Free Software Demo

In 2016, many more people booked online through social networks, dedicated websites and third party comparison sites. Our calendars automatically update to reflect the bookings we make and we’re instantly emailed a reminder to keep us from missing them. Put simply, we’ve entered an age of overwhelming simplicity for the customer, but what about for the business?

If you’re interested in online booking systems but don’t know how booking works or any other detail around online booking, you’re in luck. In this guide, we’re going to break down everything you need to know in this beginners guide to online booking systems.

What is an online booking system?

Put simply, an online booking system is a piece of software which allows a potential customer to book and pay for an activity or service through your website. Advanced booking systems allow customers to book through social networks and even on their mobile phones, helping deliver bookings wherever your customers happen to be, at whatever time they desire.

Online bookings have grown rapidly to supersede traditional phone booking systems, which required members of staff to be on hand to take bookings and manage them manually.Link to Free Software Demo

How does an online booking system work?

An online reservation system exists entirely within your website and requires no installation from online paymentyour customer to continue with their purchase.

A customer will land on your website and choose which activity or service they’d like to book, and then will click through to the booking page. At this stage, the customer will fill in a booking form. Custom forms can also be set, allowing you to harvest whatever information you require in order to complete the booking.

The customer will then pay through a secure payment gateway, and the payment will be transferred to you. This information is displayed in our secure Content Management System, which is only accessible via a login and password, offering greater security than competing booking methods.

Online booking systems, sit on a private server and allowing your customers to make reservations within your business. With BookingLive, your customers can visit your website or social media page and make a reservation, either paying online or paying in person once they arrive at your business.

Link to Free Software Demo

Are online booking payment secure?

Computerised booking systems are, on the whole, extremely secure. Gone are the dark days of the Internet where every transaction felt like it might be a scam, replaced instead by a broadly secure framework which supports consumers.

All transactions placed through BookingLive’s software are very secure. Every payment gateway that we use is chosen to help keep payments secure and customers safe from fraud. That means the use of HTTPS and proprietary security protocols which ensure trust in your business is never eroded by unscrupulous scammers.

How does BookingLive keep my data secure?online payment

Data security has never been more crucial than it is right now. Hacks have become global news, so the prospect of having your customers’ data revealed to hackers is a real worry. That’s why at BookingLive we go the extra mile to ensure the safety of our customers’ data.

Our servers are PCI compliant and have regular data backups and SSL enabled technology to ensure absolute security for our clients. Coupled with mandatory and automatic HTTPS encryption on every website with BookingLive booking software and you’ll find that many online booking systems prioritise keeping data secure.

Finally, our servers are structured so that every customer has their own database. This means that in the extremely unlikely event of a hacker gaining access to our servers, they would only be able to access information for one site – this is something which is which most of our competitors don’t do.

What payment methods do online booking systems accept?

Online booking software enables payments through a variety of methods, accepting all Visa and Visa Debit cards, credit cards and trusted online payment providers like PayPal and Google Wallet.

Which types of businesses can benefit from an OBS?

If your business, company or organisation takes bookings of any kinds, it too can benefit from an online booking and reservation system. The following are examples of businesses which we’ve helped implement successful online booking platforms:

  • Schools
  • Local government
  • Childcare providers
  • Activities companies
  • Cookery Classes
  • Courses
  • Events
  • Meeting Room Hire
  • SMEs
  • Training providers
  • Tour operators

So, if you’re wondering what impact an online booking system has on your business, the answer is a huge one. Put plainly, if you’ve got a business that takes bookings and a website, so keep up with the online booking trend, and more importantly – ahead of your competitors.Link to Free Software Demo

How much do online booking systems cost?

Online booking systems are cheaper than many imagine them to be, and are scalable for businesses, making them a compelling option for businesses of all sizes.

A key advantage of BookingLive as on online booking system provider is that we have pricing plans that fit businesses of all sizes, starting from £50 a month.

Do online booking systems take a cut of my bookings?

Many free online booking software platforms make their money by taking a slice of your transaction in return for connecting you with your customer. However many online booking systems which you pay for on a monthly plan don’t usually charge per transaction, instead of working on a flat, fair rate that works for everybody. This is something which we do here at BookingLive.

Can customers book via their smart devices with online booking systems?

The simple answer to this is yes, of course, they can. Many online booking systems rely on old code, which offers a fantastic booking experience on desktops and laptops, but a poor one on mobile devices.

That’s not good enough, especially for a business which is interested in generating online bookings and reservations well into the future. That’s why we’ve built BookingLive to resize to fit perfectly on whatever device you’re using. Whether you’re on a computer at the office or using your phone on the train, BookingLive’s booking and reservation system are designed to be perfectly flexible.

Advantages of online booking software

Online booking software platforms have a huge number of potential benefits for businesses and consumers alike. Here are just a few examples:

online booking system advantages

 

Does my business need an online booking system?

By now, we’ve covered every aspect of online booking systems and answered many of the most commonly asked questions that are put to us on a near daily basis. However, we haven’t touched on perhaps the most vital of all – does my business need an online booking system?

The simple answer is; if you have a business that takes bookings and you have a website, absolutely, yes. The big trends in e-commerce over the last 5 years has been a simplification. Research has revealed that the more steps between your customer and their purchase, the less likely they are to go through with it.

By forcing your customer to book over the phone, you’re severely limiting the number of bookings you can receive, and in tough economic times, that’s an ill-advised position to take.

Getting started with an online booking system couldn’t be easier. Simply request a free demo from our team and we’ll work with you to meet your businesses needs. A dedicated member of our staff will be with you every step of the way and before you know it, you’ll be taking orders and managing customers online with ease.

Have more questions? Look at BookingLive’s frequently asked questions or contact us.

Link to Free Software Demo

The importance of a Secure Booking System

secure booking systemAs we pass the mid-point of 2017, the status of our online security has never been more important.

Huge hacks have continued to dominate the news cycle over the last few years as companies, organisations and individuals as high profile as the NHS, Sony Pictures, the DNC, the World Anti-Doping Agency and even Facebook’s own Mark Zuckerberg have fallen foul, proving that nobody is immune to hacking.

Indeed, Mark Zuckerberg sparked a debate around online security when he shared a photo of him celebrating Instagram reaching their 500 millionth user milestone. In the background of this image was his laptop, with tape over his webcam and microphone.

Why? To prevent hackers attacking his webcam. Hackers do this by using attachments that contain malware, once these files are opened the hacker will have access to the functions on the computer, including the webcam and microphone meaning that anything done or said in front of the computer could be observed.

Put simply, the state of the security of what we do online is now at the very forefront of how we all think. However, even with those security fears in mind, online booking is now such an established part of our lives that it’s almost impossible to imagine going without it.

Clearly, a secure online booking system is required to help mitigate the uncertainty that surrounds buying and booking online in this day and age. But how does BookingLive’s online booking software ensure a secure booking system, and do customers really care about security as much as we believe?

 

Why Secure Online Booking is Utterly Essential

Shockingly, 91% of us perceive public WiFi as unsecure, and yet 89% of us still use it anyway. Free public WiFi has gone from something that few of us connect to, to an essential part of our everyday lives.

We use it in coffee shops, on transport, in hotels and just about anywhere in public, we can connect, despite the fact that almost all of us don’t believe it’s secure. Amazingly, 42% of us still put our bank card details in whilst on public WiFi. All of which means that today, millions of us are booking things over unsecured networks.

So, when things go wrong, who do people blame? Themselves, the WiFi provider and where they booked from. It’s an unfortunate fact, but often customers just don’t understand how payment security works. In BookingLive’s secure booking software we don’t keep any form of card details, instead of passing off secure payment gateways like SagePay and PayPal, amongst others.

That generalised lack of understanding can lead to a deluge of social media complaints and a swift blow to the public perception of your business. In more serious cases, threats of legal action and loss of business can occur for something which, essentially, wasn’t your fault.

By offering secure bookings, your business gains instant credibility and trustworthiness, as well as safeguarding your reputation. As a business, those are three things that money simply can’t buy, especially if you’re based exclusively online. It can take years to build up a reputation, only to potentially see it destroyed by a booking platform that wasn’t secure. So the last thing you would want is to have that destroyed by not having a secure booking system.

Perhaps most interesting of all, is the fact that studies have found customers will actually move services or businesses to get better online security systems. Although not directly linked to secure online booking, it remains telling that 70% of consumers said that they would switch hotels for greater security, whilst 68% and 30% respectively said they’d switch cafes or change airlines for it.

Clearly then, the best booking system not only helps your client book online but keeps them secure in the process. Clients and customers need to be confident that their details including, passwords, bank details and self-details are completely confidential! Our secure booking system never keeps any of your customers bank details and we will always guide our customers towards a secure and trustworthy payment gateway when setting up their secure booking system. PayPal and sage pay being our most popular chosen choice for online payment, both focusing on fraud and hidden details.

 

Security from Front to Back

When you sign up for BookingLive, you’re signing up for a secure online booking platform.secure online payment

It begins with SSL certificates on your booking page, which creates a secure environment from which your customers can make their purchase. SSL certificates are tiny data files which bind a cryptographic key to your organisation’s details, which allows for secure connections between your customer and our server – protecting credit card details, data transfers, logins and more.

From there, we offer the widest range of secure payment solutions of any online booking platform, including hugely popular and deeply respected platforms like PayPal and Sage Pay, but that’s not all. To find our full list of payment gateways we use, head over to out integrations page.

If you’d prefer not to use hosted payment gateways, then we’ll work with you and your requirements to set up a dedicated server with PCI compliance as the preferred secure payment method.

For other customers, all data is kept in a fully secure environment. Credit card details are maintained with your chosen payment gateway provider and further mitigating any potential danger of hacks.

With our secure online booking system, you’re in control of your secure booking system security, so you can set permissions to areas of the software or web page like some private information. You can also hide pages from the public that are more members only, setting exclusiveness.

Of course, those are just some of the top tier security features that BookingLive offers. Designed to offer a complete, feature rich and secure booking method for businesses of all sizes, BookingLive supports businesses of all sizes. Whether you’re a small tour operator or a large cooking school, certain requirements of a booking system remain fundamentally the same – it must be secure, it must be flexible and it must be reliable. That’s exactly what BookingLive is.

 

How Can People Protect Themselves Online?

As mentioned earlier, people use public Wi-Fi everywhere – despite not knowing if it’s secure or not. Indeed, many people automatically connect to Wi-Fi wherever it’s available.

However, connecting those open Wi-Fi spots can be exceptionally dangerous, and open the door to serious crimes like fraud or identity theft. So, how can people protect themselves when on insecure networks?

 

  • Update your anti-virus software: There are ways that customers can mitigate their chances of falling into cybercrime; one of the most common ways for people to stay secure online is to keep your computers antivirus protection up-to-date. Antivirus software is a program that makes your system secure from worms, harmful viruses and attacks through the scanning process. It helps identify websites and files that could contain harmful programs before they are able to enter the computer and block them from being downloaded to your computer.
  • Invest in a VPN: If you have worked in a large company before you may be aware of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and what they do. VPNs encrypt and protect your data as it travels from a server to your device, decrypting it at the other end. This will help protect you on public Wi-Fi by preventing hackers from capturing personal information. VPNs may not be as easy to install as antivirus software but it is worth it in the long run.
  • Use a secure online booking system: On an unsecure network, the security of your transactions is often quite debatable. However, with BookingLive and other secure booking platforms, that’s not the case. We’ve already gone to great lengths about the security benefits that BookingLive offers customers, but with HTTPS compliance on every booking page, partnerships with secure payment gateways and so much more, by using secure booking your customers can avoid fraud.
  • Update your device’s firmware: If the NHS ‘WannaCry’ hack showed us anything, it was that outdated firmware for PCs and for smart devices can easily be hacked. In that particular case, large swathes of the NHS had not updated their computer’s software beyond Windows XP, which had long since stopped being supported and patched with fixes for security issues. To avoid this, update your software on all your devices. The newest versions are built to mitigate any security risks, and they’re almost always free to upgrade to, so there’s no reason not to update.
  • Use strong passwords, and a password manager: Strong passwords are something that many websites, and programmes, are making customers employ as standard by ensuring your password includes an upper-case letter, a number and a minimum of six characters. However, that’s often not enough, with many of us reusing the same passwords over and over again. But how would you remember all the passwords for all the logins you have? The answer is by using a password manager will enable you to put all of your passwords in one database, meaning that you only have to remember one password! A reliable password safe is KeePass. KeePass is free and encrypted with secure encryption algorithms.  This will prevent you having the same password for every login.

Those are just some of the ways in which your customers can avoid getting caught out whilst online. They range from the slightly technical (VPNs) to the simple and free (updating your firmware), but as a business, there’s simply no excuse for offering an unsecured booking platform.

It’s the one aspect of security on this list which isn’t in the hands of the customer, and, as we discovered earlier, customers are quick to apportion blame when something goes wrong whilst they’re on unsecured internet.

To learn more about how to implement a secure booking platform online for your business contact us today.

Why use an Online Booking System?

Running a business has, over the last two decades, changed significantly. The way we do agree deals gone from a handshake and a pen to the click of a digital button, physical locations have been replaced by websites and myriad other shifts have meant that for traditional businesses, times have changed dramatically.

Perhaps most notable in amongst the changes, however, has been the way in which customers approach businesses to book. Gone are the days in which staff members sat eagerly awaiting calls with a calendar by their side, replaced with online booking systems which take the hassle out of booking for customer and business.

But what is the purpose of online booking system for your business? Join us as we explain, starting with the basics.

 

What is an online booking system?

At its most basic, an online booking system is software which allows a potential customer to book and pay for an activity or service directly through your website. That means from the moment a customer decides they want to book to choosing a date, picking a time and paying for the booking, everything is handled online, greatly reducing the workload on your staff and removing the opportunity for double-bookings.

Advanced systems like ours allow customers to book through a variety of methods online, including mobile, greatly expanding the potential for bookings for your business, and better leveraging an increasingly social internet.

Why would you move bookings online?

In business, sometimes it’s best to leave a functioning system alone. However, when it comes to your booking system, merely functional isn’t good enough. Some businesses employ people who are dedicated customer service staff tasked with handling, managing and confirming your bookings.

With a growth in customers comes increased demands on your staff, longer wait times and a greater chance of mistakes within your bookings. Couple that with the extensive time spent sorting and manually recording each individual booking and you’ve got an exceptionally inefficient system.

Online booking software, on the other hand, takes all of the stress, strain, mistakes and time out of arranging bookings for your business. Once set up, you can control every aspect of your booking procedure and allow customers to quickly and easily book online.

Another one of the benefits of online booking is the added capacity if offers your business in regards to bookings. Rather than being constrained by working hours and telephone capacity, your business can take countless simultaneous bookings at any moment, eliminating the friction that alternative booking systems introduce.

Of course, having an online booking system doesn’t preclude you from operating a more traditional phone-based booking system. It simply means that for customers who prefer it, they can book instantly through their device of choice. For customers and your business, it’s a no-brainer.

 

What are the applications of an online electronic booking system?

Online booking systems have a huge variety of practical applications, especially if your business is one which requires a customer to make a booking.

Going online has helped thousands of businesses across the UK raise their profile, find more customers and get the good word out about they do, so, it makes perfect sense that you’d utilise that increased visibility to drive more bookings.

No longer do potential customers need to call just to find out the availability of your business; they simply need to visit your website. From there, they can book and pay within minutes, letting your guests begin to look forward to their fantastic.

The same goes for booking based businesses of all types, whether they’re local councils, restaurants, kids play areas or tattoo parlours. The benefits of online booking are clear to see and are utterly vital if you’re intending to grow your business in 2017 and beyond.

For your business, electronic booking systems represent a huge lifting of workload from staff and dramatically improves the customer’s buying experience. Customers can make or timeslot reservations through your online booking system and get real-time information on availability – minimising reservation errors and unnecessary complications which can lead to negative customer service experiences.

 

Which types of businesses can benefit from an online booking system?

The uses of online booking systems are manyfold, and that makes them ideal for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Put plainly, if your business takes bookings of any kind, it can benefit from BookingLive software.

BookingLive might be of particular interest to businesses which rely on bookings from courses all the way to waste collection bookings. Imagine being able to pitch your product or service to customers in person and let them quickly and simply book right then and there, making their payment instantly.

With BookingLive you can let customers buy products online where products can be sold alongside your bookings, or upsell your clients with special offers as they complete their purchase.

Over the years, we’ve helped countless businesses turn their online presence into a money generating, reservation booking and customer management hub which drives new and recurring business. Whether you’re an activity centre, afterschool club or a local government, online booking systems can revolutionise the way you operate.

 

What are the other benefits of a BookingLive online booking system?

Although customer convenience and reduced staff workload can’t be overestimated, you might be wondering what other benefits an online reservation system like BookingLive offers your business.

Well, for one, they offer a degree of security that traditional booking methods simply do not. These days, online payment channels like Sage Pay and PayPal have become so ubiquitous in our daily lives that the notion of speaking your card details over the phone feels incredibly insecure.

By offering a secure online booking environment, BookingLive not only enables instant payment for your services, but also ensures that all payments are kept entirely secure, helping to build trust within your business.

Another one of the major benefits of an online booking system like BookingLive is the range of devices that your customers can book from. Unlike many competing electronic booking system providers, BookingLive is a fully responsive booking platform. What does that mean? Well, it means that whether you’re booking from a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop or a desktop computer, you’re going to get a booking experience that’s consistently joyful to use.

 

why use a online booking system

 

Quite clearly then, online booking systems are both increasing the present and future of bookings for all kinds of businesses. Though electronic booking was once viewed as dangerous and confusing, tools like BookingLive have opened many eyes to the benefits of online booking.

Today, they’re safer, easier and cheaper than ever for businesses to run and, for customers, they’re an expectation if they’re visiting a website. So, in truth, the question should be, why wouldn’t you use an online booking system?

With more of us than ever browsing, booking and buying online it makes superb business sense, and as businesses increasingly move to mobile, our tools allow both customers and businesses alike to take their bookings on the road.

Couple that with support for analytics software, custom branding, an integrated blog platform and dozens of integrations with major third-party software services, and you’ve got the perfect all-purpose cheap online booking system for your business.

To learn more about our fantastic electronic online booking system and to discover how it can take your business to the next leave book a free software demo or explore our features.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of an Online Booking System?

 

 

facebook ad copyFor many companies that take bookings, there’s an unspoken rule – if it’s working well enough, don’t fix it. When it comes to taking bookings, that means many don’t stray from old fashioned telephone-based systems, which typically require members of staff on hand or coordinate and organise bookings by hand.

Needless to say, there’s a better way of doing things, however. We speak, of course, about online booking. Online booking systems like BookingLive work by providing a secure and customisable booking platform by which your customers can see event availability, book and pay all on your site.

As a supplier of online booking platforms for customers both big and small, we’ve seen the impact an online booking platform can have on a business, boosting sales and greatly simplifying the booking procedure for both customers and staff.

We’re also aware that sometimes, the advantages of online booking might not be immediately obvious. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to share with you the advantages and disadvantages of an online booking system.

 

Advantage: Online booking systems save your staff time

When you think about the workflow of your customer service staff, it’s plain to see that an awful lot of time is taken up handling phone calls from people looking to book, explaining options to customers and managing schedules.

The demands of a phone-based booking system require a member of your staff is constantly available to handle bookings. You might not consider this a problem with customer service staff on hand, but consider the man hours which could be released by moving to an online booking platform.

Because BookingLive is fully automated, if there’s space available for a given date, your customer can choose their options, pick a date and time, pay and receive an email confirmation without any human interaction on your end – freeing up your staff to do more valuable things with their time. That’s a huge advantage of online booking platforms, and one which can greatly benefit your business.

 

Advantage: Removing the bottleneck of phone booking systems

One of the major advantage of online booking is that with a phone-based booking platform, you’re introducing a huge bottleneck into your business that can prevent customers from placing their bookings with you.

Most telephone booking systems rely on customers calling during office hours, but for many people, they simply don’t have the time to book whilst they’re in the middle of their work day. Not to mention the fact that only one caller can book at a time, unless your operating multiple phone lines (which, in turn, require more staff to deal with). This will not only free up your time but also may open up a new revenue stream.

No matter which way you cut it, that’s a bottleneck that can stifle success and reduce revenue.

Online booking platforms like BookingLive, on the other hand, offer the distinct advantage of letting customers book anytime and anywhere they see fit, on whatever device they’re using. It means immediately removing any bottleneck within your booking procedure and unlocking the true potential of your business.

There’s no disadvantage to be found from boosting your booking availability, so don’t hold back on making an online booking platform a part of your online business strategy.

Advantage: Greater sales and marketing synergy

How often do you find yourself saying “all our information is on our website” a day? We’re willing to bet that it’s more than a handful. These days, our websites are more than mere contact information for our brick-and-mortar locations, they’re huge repositories of information regarding our business, what we offer and more.

So, why not offer the opportunity to book alongside that compelling copy? By making your customers leave your product page or website in order to place a booking order, you’re introducing unnecessary complications for your customers, cutting their chances of making the kinds of impulse bookings which bring so much revenue in.

 

Advantage: A modernised approach to booking

Today’s customers aren’t discovering companies through telephone books, and they aren’t finding information about mobile_booking_softwareyour products and services by sending off for a catalogue. No, they’re increasingly finding out everything they need to know about you’re offering by heading online.

There’s no shortage of reasons why that’s the case, but you’d be missing out on a huge advantage by not making the most out of the tremendous opportunity the internet offers businesses. By integrating your booking platform with your product pages, you can go where, increasingly, all of your customers are.

As telephone booking trend slowly dies, the competitive disadvantage of not having an online booking platform will widen, leaving you behind. So keep up with the booking trend and move online.

 

Advantage: Increased revenue thanks to upselling

In any business, you’re going to face immense competition, which typically leads to something of a race to the bottom in regards to price. That’s why it’s so important to upsell goods and services to your customers. That might mean a meal included on a tour, items available to hire for an activity or a follow on course.

Online booking platforms like BookingLive introduce upselling into the booking process, letting you offer context specific items and offers to customers who might have come across them otherwise. It’s just another advantage of online booking platforms, and another way to help to grow your business in an age of internet-first bookings.

 

Disadvantage: Can come at a cost

One of the major disadvantages of online booking platforms is that, for all their positives, they do come at a monetary cost – don’t believe the promises of free online booking systems.

Some charge you per transactions, whilst others charge a flat monthly fee, so you’ll always know how much you’re paying. Custom made online booking platforms will charge you a hefty lump sum up front, as well as recurring costs for bug fixes and support.

Ultimately, the benefits of an online booking system for your business far outweigh the small monthly cost it would take to implement one, but the notion of cost is something you’re going to have to come to terms with. To find out more about our pricing click here.

 

Disadvantage: Online booking platforms require internet access

Though internet access is widespread these days, it remains true that one of the major disadvantages of online booking systems are their reliance on internet connections. In order to book through an online booking system, your customers will have to have access to the internet. This can be on their smartphone, tablet, computer, laptop or any other internet-enabled device.

That’s why at BookingLive, our system enables you to maintain telephone bookings, plugging the information directly into our system so you can easily maintain and manage your bookings, even from non-online bookings.

 

Online booking systems open your business up to a range of opportunities, from saving your staff time to a new revenue stream through offering to upsell items.  So keep up with the online booking trend today and contact us, where a member of our staff would be more than happy to discuss how we can help you implement an online booking system.

To see what our current customer’s experience of an online booking system then watch this video!

online booking system advantages and disadvantages

 

 

Sync Bookings with Google Calendar

Keeping track of your bookings whether it’s, classes, tours and workshops whilst managing a business can be a real struggle.

Though we’ve moved away from wall calendars and convoluted colour-coded systems towards tools like Google Calendar, it’s fair to say that our digital organisation tools don’t often integrate in a way which allows us to focus on areas of our work which really matter.

It’s a situation that’s meant many businesses have begun to rely on third party to tools to link their online booking platform to their Google Calendar – often with deeply unsatisfactory results.

But did you know you can synchronize your bookings in your Google Calendar account. A Google Calendar booking system integration ensures your bookings and their respective customer details appear in real time in Google Calendar!

The synchronization is a huge bonus for business of all stripes, and in this article, we’re going to share with you exactly how it works, and why your business can benefit from a booking system with Google Calendar

Google Calendar Sync with BookingLive features

Imagine a centralised calendar which shows not only automatically updates bookings, availability and resources, but also staff hours for the current day, week or month view.

A Google Calendar is structured such that you or authorised members of staff can log into and update Google Calendar on an ad-hoc basis, allowing you to modify and update bookings with ease and without having to login to their google booking system.

Top features include:

  • Displaying resources such as vehicles
  • Start and end date and time of the booking
  • Staff assigned to bookings
  • Display individual and group bookings
  • Works for multiple locations
  • Read back created events that are marked as busy into the booking system
  • Automatic syncing across all devices

How does Google Calendar integrate with a booking system?

A Google Booking System works seamlessly by constantly referencing your bookings to populate a designated Google Calendar with the dates, times and notes of every single booking. You can connect a location to a Google Calendar which will then automatically push all booking information to the Google Calendar feed

It also acts as a staff scheduling tool, giving your team everything they need to know to ensure they’re on time and prepared for the booking.

Setting it up is easy, and requires mere moments to activate.

 Why is Google Calendar integration valuable for your business?

Though technology has made many aspects of managing a business profoundly simpler, there are some aspects of business management which have remained much the same. Managing schedules, remembering vital dates and dealing with changes in bookings are just a handful of these everyday nuisances, but each can be improved with our Google booking system integration.

By linking up with Google’s class leading calendar system, you can ensure that you’ll always have access your calendars, wherever you are. Requiring no dedicated software and with apps or integrations on every mobile platform in the world, Google Calendars can be accessed anywhere.

Paired with a secure online booking platform, Google Calendar takes on a whole new level of usefulness. Here are a handful of the advantages of Google Calendar integration:

  • Reduces staff demands for simple tasks like updating your calendar
  • Automatically updates to provide current vital information for staff
  • Can be easily edited to include non-booking events, like staff meetings or training days
  • Is available on all Internet-connected devices, from your smartphone to your television
  • Offers staff a unified and simple daily, weekly and monthly schedule.

These are just a handful of the tangible benefits of a Google Calendar booking system integration. To find out more about how a booking system can work with Google Calendars, contact us today.

google calendar booking system

For more details or a step by step guide on how to set this up pleaser refer to the user manual or contact us at BookingLive.com

Essential Software for Small Businesses

Nobody said that running a small business would be easy, but the difficulty can catch many off guard. On top of managing staff, payroll, stock and premises, you’ve now got the added pressures of maintaining and competing in an increasingly tough online marketplace.

Thankfully, with the increased complications of SME businesses in 2017 has come a raft of fantastic, low-cost, high-utility software designed to take the pain out managing a small business.

Small business software is designed to help you run your business better, cut your costs and increase productivity. So, what is the best small business software you should be investing in for your enterprise?

essential business software

Here’s our six picks for accounting, communication, project management, office software, security software and small business booking system:

Best Small Business Accounting Software: Xeroxero logo

If you haven’t heard of Xero before, let us give you a brief introduction: it’s the most comprehensive business accounting software available today, and yet it doesn’t feel complex or confusing. That’s some feat, but Xero manages it with style thanks to a design that fits across smartphones, tablets and computers.

Their software allows for instant bank reconciliation, so you can import your banking, credit card and PayPal transactions with ease. That’s alongside inventory, payroll, invoicing, expenses, bill and purchases management tools. Oh, and that’s just the start of this incredible small business management software.

Starting from just £10 a month and with a free 30-day trial, it’s also a tremendous value.

 

 

Best Communication Software for Small Businesses: Slack

Slack has quietly taken over the world of business communication, and for good reason too. This web and app based

communication tool gives your employees the power to create specific “channels” where your team can converse on specific topics. It might be a project, a topic, a team within your team or anything else. You can even set up private channels for invited team members only, for those sensitive conversations.

You’ll also enjoy the ability to drag and drop files for your team to download and the ability to make instant video calls to anyone on the team, helping you all stay connected. Oh, and that’s without going into the countless other integrations it boasts. Best of all? It’s free on the basic plan, so you can discover whether it’s for you before you take the plunge.

slack logo

 

Best Project Management Software for Small Businesses: Dapulse

Let’s face it, those projects aren’t going to manage themselves, but how do you ensure your staff are on task, on time and on the right track? The answer is dapulse.

Designed to offer a highly visual project management platform for businesses of all types, dapulse gives you the power to manage everything from aa single board, where you can track everything your team is working on and the status of their individual tasks. It’s shockingly easy to add new tasks, projects, goals and to-dos, and you can simply assign staff to tasks.

It also acts as a communication platform between your staff, so they can easily chat about specific projects in context, rather than heading over to their emails.

Those are just a handful of the fantastic features that make up dapulse, and make it an essential small business software choice. Pricing runs from £22 per month for their basic software with 5 users or less, and can be scaled up from there depending on your requirements.

 

Best Office Software for Small Businesses: Google Drive

It might seem like something of a controversial choice given the hegemony of Microsoft’s Office software (especially now it’s launched on smartphones and tablets), but Google Docs takes our crown as the best office software for small business. Why?

Well, between its three components (Docs, Sheets and Slides), you’ve got three fully featured Office replacements. Docs offer all the benefits of Microsoft Word, Slides beings Google’s magic to the PowerPoint formula and Sheets is a terrific Excel clone. Put together, you’ve got the three most commonly used google drive logoofficeapplications. The real benefit of Google Drive is that you’re able to invite colleagues to view and work on a document with you at the same time, on their computer, meaning that you won’t have to keep sending your suggestions back and forth via email as you’ll be able to instantly edit the document instead!

Google Docs can open Office documents and even export them too, so you’ll enjoy full compatibility with Office users around the world. As far as small business software goes, it’s something of a no-brainer, especially given the completely free cost – all you need is a Google account.

 

Best Security Software for Small Businesses: Avast Endpoint Protection Advanced

The value of digital security should never be underestimated, even in a small business. Of course, whilst you could equip every computer in your office with a free antivirus, they don’t offer centralised control and they require staff to be trained to use them effectively.

That’s why when it comes to the best small business software, you’re always better off with dedicated small business security software. To that end, we recommend Avast’s Endpoint Protection Advanced. It’s the most basic business software that Avast offer, but it’ll allow all your businesses PCs to remain secure in day to day operation and your IT manager to deal with the security of your PCs from a single location.

Barebones? Yes, but with up to 100 users/nodes and fantastic basic security, it’s a low-cost way to secure your business and avoid costly data leaks or IT failures, and is totally essential small business software.

 

Best Online Booking System for Small Businesses: BookingLive

Managing bookings can be extremely time-consuming in a small business, especially if you’re reliant on booking. That, in turn, costs you man hours and could decrease productivity. That’s why online booking software is essential SME software, whether you’re an activity centre, tour operator or run courses.

BookingLive is our choice for the best small business booking system for a number of reasons, but none more so than its sheer flexibility. Easy to set up with live support available and designed for the modern internet with a design that fits in to match your live website. You’ll love the integrations available, top-tier security and ease by which you can use BookingLive to automate your entire booking procedure.

Customers can book from your website with a rolling monthly contract starting from just £50, you’ll be amazed at what BookingLive can do. A free demo is available so you get a chance to see what BookingLive can do for your business.

To find out more about how BookingLive can support your SME, get in contact with us today or head over to our small business web page!

 

 

BookingLive Secures G-Cloud Nine Certification

It’s been a great week over here at BookingLive HQ. Why? Because we have been officially granted the G-Cloud 9 certification! To public sector businesses, that’s music to their ears. However, for everyone else, it might well sound like meaningless techno-jargon. So join us as we explain what the G-Cloud 9 is and what the approval will mean for BookingLive.

So, what is G-Cloud?

The G-Cloud Framework was set up by the UK Government in order to standardise the terms and conditions between cloud hosting providers and public sector organisations, like local councils, the NHS and police force.

Launched in 2012 G-Cloud has been in operation for over five years, and has amassed thousands of certified suppliers with over ten thousand services on offer to public sector businesses, with more in the pipeline.

In those intervening five years, the government have moved to regularly modify and clarify the G-Cloud Framework, making it safer, more secure and simpler for everyone. Here’s what’s changed in G-Cloud 9:

  • A unified framework: Ever since the release of G-Cloud, there have been two iterations of the G-Cloud Framework. That’s no longer the case with G-Cloud 9, as it replaces both 7 and 8, simplifying purchases.
  • Greatly simplified structure: Many users found the previous structure wasn’t an accurate representation of the cloud tech environment. There are now three categories, called ‘Cloud hosting’, ‘Cloud software’ and ‘Cloud support’, with new descriptions that will help users understand which technology and support should be provided through G-Cloud.
    There are also changes to the questions that each of the category providers are asked, alongside expanding the categorisation of services and granting suppliers the ability to maintain up-to-date descriptions of their services, thereby improving the quality of the Digital Marketplace.
  • A new funding model: In response to the 2015/16 Government Spending Review, the CCS is rolling out a change to its funding model, increasing the management charge for G-Cloud 9 from 0.5% to 0.75%. This change affects all charges billed by the supplier to the buyer.

These new changes mean that G-Cloud suppliers, like ourselves, will have to resubmit their products and services, but it does mean that public sector businesses can buy in confidence, know their data is secure and their costs transparent.

BookingLive and G-Cloud 9.g cloud 9 approved

You might be wondering though exactly why BookingLive needs to be G-Cloud 9 secure in the first place? After all, isn’t BookingLive’s online booking platform based on your own private server?

The simple answer is no. The reasons behind this are plentiful, running the gamut from greater ease for the customer to rapid updates and superior uptime. However, it also means that our software has to be G-Cloud 9 certified if we want to continue supporting our incredible public sector, clients. Thankfully, we’ve done just that.

Security first – always.

Our constant improvements to our secure cloud hosting service have meant that achieving G-Cloud 9 approval was a mere formality, thanks to our PCI compliant cloud hosting. Regular data backups and SSL enabled technology to enable superior security y and absolute piece of mind.

Indeed, unlike many of our competitors, every customer has their own database. What does this mean? If we only used one database it would mean that if someone got access to it, they would have access to all information stored on all sites. By ensuring that each site has its own database we can guarantee that it is impossible for a security breach on one site to gain access to another of our customer’s data. And tonline booking system securityo further reduce the risk of hacking, we enable HTTPS as standard on every website.

As an additional added security measure, we never handle any payment details; instead, we hand over the customer to a registered, secure payment gateway like SagePay or PayPal. These companies then collect the payment information, encrypt it and then destroy it, once the transaction has been completed.

Whilst this security ensures that public sector business’ data remains absolutely secure, your business can benefit from it too. Data breaches cause untold financial and reputation damage to any business – damage which can be notoriously hard to recover from.

With BookingLive’s G-Cloud 9 accreditation, you can be certain that whether your data relates to Registrar or meeting room bookings treated treat with absolute sensitivity.

To learn more about BookingLive’s G-Cloud 9 certification or our superior security on our online booking system, speak to a member of our team today.

BookingLive raises £500,000 investment

The Summit Group and Creative England fund development of new freemium product

We will be radically expanding our customer base beyond enterprise-sized firms later this year thanks to £500,000 of funding raised to launch its new freemium version.

The funding has been secured from two sources: venture capital firm The Summit Group, who are investing £300,000, and non-profit investors Creative England, who have provided the remaining £200,000.

vinnie morgan bookinglive

Our founder and CEO, Vinnie Morgan, has long had ambitions to offer a free version of our product that would be accessible to any organisation of any size: from SMEs to local voluntary organisations. Thanks to the new funding, this new product will be released soon, possibly as early as Q3 of 2017.

Like other free booking products, our freemium product will collect a commission from the customer booking on all bookings sold. Although the pricing model is still being finalised, we have committed to charging lower prices than other services currently on the market.

Although we are entering a market with several established players, we are confident we can quickly establish itself as an attractive option for organisers. As Vinnie explained to the media recently:

“BookingLive is not a startup. We’re an established, profitable company with a growing customer base among large organisations with complex needs. We will be using that expertise to create the best booking software option for the freemium section of the market.”

“For several years we have collected enormous amounts of data on how organisers and customers use booking software. This is allowing us to design a freemium version that will be exactly right for SMEs and smaller groups. The freemium product will not be exactly the same as the enterprise product, but it will not simply be a stripped down version either. It will be a tailored fit with a huge focus on an intuitive mobile-first and an easy-to-use administration system.”

Although we are excited about growing our customer base, BookingLive will continue to provide its current cloud-based booking software product to larger companies and public sector organisations alongside the new freemium product. We remain committed to growing our successful enterprise-level business through innovation and great service, as well as always developing that product further.

 

If you would like to receive updates on our new products features and launch, then stay tuned!